A staunch opponent of high-stakes casino gambling has been chosen by the People's Alliance Party as its candidate for president of the Seneca Nation of Indians.
Michael Schindler, a 43-year-old ironworker, faces Seneca Party candidate Ross L. John Sr., who wants the nation to open a high-stakes bingo hall in downtown Buffalo.
Also in the Nov. 5 election are Daniel C. Williams and Richard K. Nephew, both running as independents.
A move in 1993 by the Seneca Party to build a casino in Western New York was met with violent resistance.
In April 1994, the Seneca electorate turned down a casino, 714-446, in a referendum.
"Many in the Seneca Nation want to expand beyond bingo and start casinos," John said. "But I don't even want to deal with considering a casino at this point."
Susan Abrams is one of the most vociferous casino opponents and an organizer of the new People's Alliance Party.
"We are not against bingo, although we have not considered expanding our bingo games beyond our reservations," she said. "But Ross John's plan to open a bingo hall in Buffalo is his way of opening the door to a casino."
Statements released so far by Nephew and Wiliams have focused on New York State's decision to collect sales and excise taxes on reservation sales of tobacco and fuel products to non-Indians.
Williams, a construction worker, is now a member of the tribal council.
"The word 'tax' is not in the Indian vocabulary," Williams said. "Treaties were made that promised we would never be subject to state taxes, . . . neither to pay nor collect."
Williams has been involved in Seneca politics for the last 15 years, "mostly in marshal work," he explained. "I have been a game warden, marshal and chief marshal."
Schindler has focused his involvement with the nation on the Pinewood Community Organization, "which sponsors many activities for our young people, as well as their parents and our elders," he said.
"But since casino gambling came to Indian reservations, I was determined to do all I could to never have our nation involved," Schindler emphasized.
The successful candidate will serve a two-year term, succeeding Dennis Bowen Sr., a resident of the Allegany Reservation.
Traditionally, Seneca presidents cannot serve consecutive terms, and the presidency is alternated between the two reservations.
The four presidential candidates reside on the Cattaraugus Reservation.
Running with Schindler on the People's Alliance Party ticket are candidates Rae Snyder, for treasurer, and Geraldine Huff, for clerk.
The People's Alliance Party's candidates for reservation offices include:
Allegany -- councilors, Tyler Heron, Stewart "Jo Jo" Redeye, D. Jim Ray and Shelly Lichy; chief marshal, Marty Crouse Sr.; highway commissioner, Guy Patterson; assessors, Susan H. George and Judy Greene; poormaster, Mary Shongo.
Cattaraugus -- councilors, Susan Abrams, Wayne Jones, Lanny Bennett and Ina Locke; chief marshal, Carley Seneca; highway commissioner, Denny Schindler; assessors, Harve Parker, Ginger Mohawk and David Pierce; poormaster, April Williams.
Running with John on the Seneca Party ticket are candidates Pauline "Snap" Redeye, for treasurer, and Barbara Hemlock, for clerk.
The Seneca Party's candidates for reservation offices include:
Allegany -- councilors, Mike "Spike" John, Ron Jimerson, Norma Kennedy and Rickey Armstrong Sr.; chief marshal, Gregg Cooper; assessors, Martin A. John, Scott Abrams and Larry Bacellia; highway commissioner, Merle S. Watt Sr.; poormaster, Debra Hoag.
Cattaraugus -- councilors, Karen "Annie" Keyes, Joyce Gates, Sheila Kenjockety and J. C. Seneca; chief marshal, Richard E. Nephew; highway commissioner, Ronald "Redbone" White; assessors, Gary Schindler, Joyce "Beanie" Jamieson and Gloria Nephew; poormaster, Joyce Thompson.